Yare Valley Churches tackles social isolation

Author: Paul Smith

Published on: 13 June 2019

Over recent years in Broadland there have been improvements to the provision that many communities offer for the elderly, particularly those who are living alone.

Within the Brundall area, there is now a good range of activities and opportunities which have evolved and are designed to combat the feelings of loneliness and isolation. What hasn’t improved at the same pace as these developments is the ability to transport those who attend, or might attend but cannot drive themselves there. A good number of residents have mobility issues since activities in this elongated village are dispersed across different venues which, depending on where a person lives, can mean a long walk in order to attend the group or event. The recent arrival of a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle aims to rectify this shortcoming. Although this is a church innovation, the WAV is available for the whole community. In particular, the adapted vehicle is now being used to transport disabled, infirm and elderly residents to various activities around the village including medical appointments and the fortnightly luncheon club for senior citizens living alone.

The project has been financed by generous donations from:

  • The Mission Strategy Fund 2021
  • Norwich Freemen’s Charity
  • Co-op Local Community Fund
  • Brundall Cancer Community Chest
  • Shelroy Charitable Trust Fund
  • RC Snelling Charitable Trust
  • Paul Bassham Charitable Trust
  • The Hilary Critten Fund and boosted by generous anonymous donations from several individuals from within the Benefice.

The year long project was entitled ‘Connecting Our Community’. Prior to the Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle taking to the road, it was blessed by the Bishop of Thetford, the Rt Revd Alan Winton. Tom Upton, a wheelchair dependent worshipper at Brundall Church, got the VIP treatment when he was the first to ascend the ramp in this specially adapted car. Tom hopes to be a regular passenger and said: “I was thrilled to be collected by Bishop Alan and this project will help me and others get about more and socialise.”

The WAV is driven by a team of volunteer drivers from the Brundall community, all have had specialist wheelchair handling training. The Revd Peter Leech of Yare Valley Churches says “We are still on a steep learning curve on this exciting project. Nevertheless, we are keen to share our experience with other voluntary organisations.”

Enquiries should be made via Yare Valley Churches website at www.yarevalleychurches.org.uk

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